Tag Archives: Baking

SMS: Sticky Buns with Toasted Almonds

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Hey guys!  Guess what?  It’s my week to choose the Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe!  Woo-hoo!  No joke, I’ve been looking forward to this since I joined the group this spring.  I chose the Sticky Buns with Toasted Almonds, and as with so many recipes from this cookbook, I wasn’t disappointed.  Melissa’s recipe produces a wonderful soft bun scented with orange zest, which seems to continue the trend in her book of using citrus in unexpected places (I think it might be fun to try a mixture of lemon and orange in this recipe).  The sticky sauce was delicious as well, although mine became very hard very quickly after the buns were removed from the pan.  My roommates, however, have actually requested that I make just the sauce and let it harden into toffee, they liked it so much.

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This dough came together really easily, even though I don’t have a stand mixer (I actually did everything by hand without much trouble).  The dough took a little bit longer on its first rise than stated in the book, probably because the yeast is not dissolved in water and sugar before being added to the recipe.  Once it rose, though, I had no trouble rolling out the dough.  I also thought it was interesting that the recipe uses an egg wash inside the rolls instead of butter.  The sticky sauce also came together very quickly, and then everything was set in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day was a quicker rise than I had expected, and then baking the buns.  My only major complaint about the buns is that they are done way before the time listed.  I tented mine with aluminum foil at about 25 minutes to prevent over-browning, but ended up taking them out at 35 minutes, which was still a little bit late (and may have attributed to the toffee-like consistency of the sauce).  I also really liked that the toasted almonds are added after the buns are baked, so people who aren’t such fans could omit them.

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Please make these buns!  They’re wonderful!  If you’re not much of a sticky bun fan, you can make them without the sticky sauce and top them with cream cheese frosting after they’re baked for regular cinnamon buns.

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Please go to the blogroll and check out what all the other bakers thought of these buns, ok?

Sticky Buns with Toasted Almonds- Makes 12 buns

from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book pages 39-41

For the Dough:

1 large egg yolk

1 c. whole milk

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Zest of 1 orange

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

2 1/4 tsp. (1 package) active dry yeast

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 c. sugar

For the sticky sauce:

1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 c. pure maple syrup

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the egg wash:

1 large egg

2 Tbsp. whole milk or heavy cream

For the cinnamon sugar:

1 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1/2 c. sugar

For finishing:

1 c. whole natural almonds, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

To make the dough (first rise)

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, combine the egg yolk, milk, vanilla, zest, and one-third of the flour.  Mix on medium speed until it is a smooth paste.  Add the butter in pieces and mix to combine.

2. Change the mixer attachment to a dough hook.  Add the remaining flour, the yeast, salt, and sugar and mix on low speed to combine.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball and is no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl.  The dough should be nice and elastic.  If it is very sticky, slowly add up to 1/2 cup more flour.

3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set  aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

To make the sticky sauce

1. Generously butter a 9×13 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon, stirring until it reaches a rolling boil.

3. Remove from heat and pour into the prepared pan.  Set aside to cool.

To make the dough (second rise)

1. When the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is 12 inches wide by 18 inches long.

2. For the egg wash: In a small bowl, using a fork, whisk together the egg and milk.  Using a pastry brush, brush it over the surface of the dough.

3. For the cinnamon sugar: In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar.  Sprinkle over the dough, leaving unsugared the bottom 1 inch of one long side of the rectangle.

4. Starting at the top edge of the rectangle, roll the dough toward you jelly-roll style and pinch the bottom seam closed.  Slice the roll into 12 pieces approximately 1 1/2 inches thick, and place them cut side up about 2 inches apart on top of the sticky sauce in the pan.  Spray the buns lightly with nonstick vegetable cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap (or lighly butter one side of the plastic wrap).  Refrigerate overnight.

To complete the buns

1. When you are ready for the final rise, remove the buns from the refrigerator.  Bring about 3 quarts of water to a boil.  Place an empty roasting pan large enough to hold the water on the bottom of your cold oven.  Pour the boiling water into the pan.

2. Remove the plastic wrap from the buns.  Position a rack in the center of your oven.  Place the pan on the rack in the oven (do not turn it on!) and shut the door.  The steam of the water will help the buns in their final rise.  The buns will just about double in size in 30 to 45 minutes.  (If your fridge is on a super-cold setting, the buns may need a little longer to rise.  If they need more time, just boil some more water and refill the roasting pan.)  When the buns have doubled in volume, remove them (and the roasting pan filled with water) from the oven.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Using tongs, turn the buns over onto a serving dish.  Pour the sticky sauce in the pan over the buns and sprinkle with the chopped almonds.

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SMS: Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble

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Hey everyone!  I said it earlier this week, but it’s now officially fall to me.  Yesterday I loaded up on allergy medicine and made the required fall trip to Curtis Orchard (where the apples were kind of awful, but the kittens, goats, and apple cider and donuts made up for it), and then froze my butt off watching the Illini get killed by Penn State.  Then I spent the evening watching more football and “Defiance” while drinking root beer floats and hot chocolate.  Yep, it’s officially fall!

Unfortunately, I didn’t actually get my apples for this week’s SMS recipe from an apple orchard.  Oh well…  This week Christine of Christine Cooks chose the Apple Orchard Pecan Crumble for our weekly bake.  I was a little bit disappointed, because I was really looking forward to choosing this recipe my week, but then I realized I get to make it even earlier!  Suddenly, everything was right in the world again.

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This was delicious.  Next time I think I’ll reduce the sugar that gets sprinkled over the apples, like several other people have said.  I also think I’ll reduce the baking time a little bit.  I burned the crumble a little bit because I forgot to check on the crumble about 10 minutes before the end of the baking time, like I usually do.  The other reason I might reduce the baking time, and this is purely personal preference, is because I like my apples still a little bit crunchy when I eat a crisp.  These apples were cooked down so much it was almost like eating applesauce sometimes.  Which, really, isn’t a bad thing.  It’s just not what I usually like best.  That being said, everyone else thought it was great, so I’m pretty sure I’m alone on this one :-D.  But despite these little things, I will most definitely be making this again.  This recipe was much better than the package of apple crisp mix I bought last year at Curtis Orchard.  One of my favorite things about this recipe, as silly as it is, was that it used melted butter rather than cutting in cold butter.  I think that just makes everything so much easier!

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Goat!

Anyway, drop by the blogroll to see what everyone else thought of this week’s super awesome recipe.  And make sure you come back next week- it’s finally my week to choose a recipe!  EEK!!!

Curtis Orchard with Adam and Laura 009And a gratuitous kitten picture.  I really wanted to pack this little guy in my purse and bring him home, he was so sweet and friendly!  I honestly don’t think anyone there would have noticed.  My roommates and pet fish might have been another story…

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SMS: Caramelized Onion, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins

Hey everyone!  I’m back for real this time, and even posting (albeit quickly) on a Sunday!  I re-took the LSAT yesterday (the reason I’ve been locked up in my room, away from blogging and all my other fun activities the last several weeks), and I feel like it went really well.  I’m hoping this isn’t one of those scenarios where you feel awesome and then find out you did awful…  But I really don’t think it is.  I only guessed on two questions the whole test (of about 120 questions total), and I also found out that the LSAT I took in June was one of the hardest ones they’ve given in several years.  If I could survive that one and still do well, this one should be no sweat!  Also, I didn’t have any mental snaps and spend several minutes this time trying to figure out if dinosaurs could have been mauve like I did in June, which is most certainly a step in the positive direction 😉

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Anyway, muffins.  This week Hanaa of Hanaa’s Kitchen chose what I’m pretty sure is our first savory recipe, Caramelized Onion, Sage, and Cheddar Muffins.  Or, in my case, thyme muffins.  Yeah, I forgot to pick up sage.  Anyway, while I think these would be great with sage, they were AWESOME with thyme.  Man, I love thyme.  I also left the onions out of half of them for my rather picky roommates.  The muffin batter was really much more of a dough, very thick and solid.  I thought for a second about adding more liquid, but left the dough as it was.  Fortunately, they exceeded my expectations and didn’t turn out really dry.  They had a tiny bit of kick from them due to the cayenne pepper, which I might increase next time because I really liked it.  I was also a little bit short on the cheddar, so I’m looking forward to making them again with the full amount of cheddar, or maybe even extra!  And believe me, I will be making these again!  They went with two different meals fantastically.

Maybe I could add bacon next time…

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Ok, and one more picture.  I’ve had basically no social life the last several weeks courtesy of the LSAT, but I did make it out for Formal Pledging for Mike’s fraternity.  A bunch of the house girlfriends got together beforehand, and we got a pretty cute group picture.  I’m in the red dress (please ignore the weird poof thing it’s doing in the front).  Best of all, though, is the girl right next to me.  Her name’s Jackie, and we’ve been best friends since kindergarten.  We go to different schools, though, and don’t see each other often.  Also, she’s a theater major, and once rehearsals start she can’t go anywhere on weekends, so it was a huge treat for her to come into town.  We had Fat Sandwich (got the Fat Chief), pretty much the least healthy restaurant in existance, and just generally had an awesome weekend.

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SMS Wrap-Up

Hey everyone.  I know I told you a while ago that I was back in business, but there was one pesky detail keeping me from blogging, and I finally resolved it today.  After all of my unpacking, I couldn’t find my camera anywhere!  I couldn’t bear to post for a cooking and baking blog without pictures, so I just didn’t post at all.  Not the most logical decision, but my decision nonetheless.  Fortunately, I found my camera in a box of random TV cables and nick-nacks (knick-knacks?  I’ve never known how to spell that.).  Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the SMS recipes I’ve baked lately, so I’ll just try to fill you in from memory.

First, Stephanie of Ice Cream Before Dinner chose the Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies for August 16.  Unfortunately, this was the first SMS recipe I’ve made that I just didn’t like.  My dough was really soft, and the cookies spread like mad, resulting in very thin, not-so-chewy cookies.  I might tweak the recipe (adding vanilla and more flour) someday, but in all likelihood I’ll just use my standard recipe.

After that, Spike the Baker stepped in as an emergency host and chose Snickerdoodles.  There was a lot of discussion on the boards on how to prevent spreading (caused by the peanut butter cookies, perhaps?), and a lot of good tips were thrown out, like chilling the dough, chilling the cookie sheets, using insulated sheets, and checking that baking soda and powder are still fresh.  I was pretty happy with this recipe, although I thought it was odd that again there was no vanilla.  I added a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg, because I think nutmeg rocks in snickerdoodles.  I will be making these again, but I don’t know that they’ll completely replace any of my other snickerdoodle recipes.

Next, I believe Annie of Living Life Foodcariously hosted Hazelnut Truffles.  You have no idea how bummed I was that I skipped this recipe, but I was at home and both of my parents are dieting, and I couldn’t fathom just making the truffles for my brother and I.  Not to say we wouldn’t have eaten them, it just seemed like a bad idea.  I’m really looking forward to the other truffle recipes in the book.

Then Joy of Hot Oven, Warm Heart hosted the Banana Apple Bread.  This looked awesome, and I thought my mom could take it into work, but then found out she’d already made banana bread using her church cookbook recipe that week.  If my roommates are banana bread people, I might give this one a whirl later this semester, once it gets more fall-like.

The last week I missed was the Fresh Peach Muffins hosted by JoVonn of The Givens Chronicles.  I had high hopes for this recipe, which were squashed by the lack of good peaches at the grocery store.  I’m pretty sure they were just super picked-over because of all the college kids who were suddenly back in town.  Anyway, this is definitely on my to-make list.

The most recent recipe was one I actually made.  For this week, Sarah of Blue Ridge Baker chose the Fallen Chocolate Souffle Cake.  This was my first time ever baking a souffle, and I was pretty nervous.  Can you imagine how nervous I would have been if I didn’t go into it expecting the souffle to fall?  I made the full recipe but split it up and baked it in my 4″ springform pans.  I probably should have gotten 6 cakes from it, but I got 7 because I didn’t fill the first two up nearly full enough.  I baked each one for 16-17 minutes.  While I liked the recipe, I’m not sure I was overwhelmed by it.  That’s partially my fault, though.  We were out of oranges for zesting (they were all bald because of a chocolate-and-orange recipe I made earlier in the week), and on top of that I forgot to add the triple sec.  I tried making a simple syrup flavored with the triple sec, but it didn’t impart as much orange flavor as I was hoping.  I might make these again, but to be honest if I’m looking for chocolate-orange flavor I’ll probably just make the cookies I made earlier.  I promise I will post about them once I make them again, I’m not just stringing you along!

As for the Perfect Pound Cake… I’ll tell you about that in a while.  I’m not ready to talk about it yet…  But I promise, the issues were all my fault.

If you’re interested in what all the SMS’ers have thought of our recipes, definitely check out the blogroll.  And if you’re interested in the book, which I would very highly recommend, it’s the Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy, owner of the Sweet Melissa Patisserie in New York City.  It’s only about $17 on Amazon, and I can honestly say that I’ll be giving away at least one copy of it, come Christmas.  Actually, I might just give it to my friend for her birthday, to keep her from stealing it from me!

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And just in case this wasn’t long enough, here’s a picture of my new fish, Gilligan!  I’ve had him for a week, and he finally ate something tonight.  It was really freaking me out that I got a fish that wouldn’t eat, I’m suspicious enough of people who don’t eat.  Anyway, I really like him, and isn’t he so pretty?  Sorry about the flash on the tank, it was the only way I could get the shutter speed fast enough before he moved!

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Oatmeal Wheat Bread

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As far as I’m concerned, bread baking is one of the best smells there is.  I love the warm, yeasty smell of bread rising, and the nice crust you get when it’s done, along with that sense of accomplishment.  So, since I was out of bread, I’m trying to empty out my pantry before I move out next week (and failing miserably), and my dad’s going to be in town this weekend and loves whole-wheat bread, I made wheat bread.  There was logic in that decision somewhere, I’m sure.  If you find it, let me know!

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Ok, so this isn’t exactly whole wheat bread like my dad prefers, but I think it’s a pretty good compromise between our two preferences.  This bread came together really easily, and rose quickly.  I only had two small problems with it.  The most universal one was that the bread was a little bit over-browned, so I probably should have tented it with aluminum foil partway through baking.  The other problem is probably only mine, and that’s that this recipe uses oatmeal, which meant I had to make oatmeal.  I get that it’s incredibly healthy, but oatmeal gives me the heebie-jeebies.  As with most foods I’m not fond of (like scallops or flan), the texture just freaks me out.  But I sucked it up, and I wouldn’t even know it was there if I hadn’t made it myself!  This bread was a little bit sweet from the honey, and will be great for sandwiches, or maybe even french toast!  It was a great use for my SMS preserves!

Oatmeal Wheat Bread

Adapted from Epicurious and Gourmet magazine

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water I used 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter

1. Heat milk and 1/2 stick butter in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

2. Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Look out, this foams a LOT! Stir yeast mixture, melted butter it’s already there, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

3. Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

4. Lightly butter two 8×4 inch loaf pans I used 9×5. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

5. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats (or just with melted butter), then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

6. Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

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Also, since my dad will be here tomorrow, I thought I’d share some important things I’ve leard from him.

1. Always carry dog bones in your pocket.  Even if you don’t have a dog.

2. Never throw the first punch.  However, if you do throw the first punch, make sure you give fair warning.

3. If a boy doesn’t respect you enough to pick you up at the door, he’s not worth dating (although this one was usually phrased more along the lines of “I swear to god, if he sits in the driveway and honks the horn, you’re not leaving this house!”).

4. Everyone should have a nice, heavy pen.

5. You don’t have to like everyone.

6. It’s ok to skip a homework assignment every now and then, but it’s not ok to skip a big project.  Pick and choose.

7. Algebra.  Also, that math is a four-letter word.

8. Being a little weird is a good thing sometimes.  It makes you stand out from the crowd.

9. Asparagus tastes way better warm than it does cold.

10. It is possible to penny someone’s door shut so far that it is impossible to get it back open.

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SMS: Whole Orange Poppyseed(less) Cake

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Whew!  After a crazy fun weekend with my friend Dana, who came to visit, it took me a couple days to get caught up on schoolwork, sleep, all those important little details.  And laundry.  Which is why I’m just getting around to posting this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe, and why I’ll be quick.  Our recipe this week was chosen by Melissa of Lulu the Baker.  She’s such a sweet person, just celebrated her blog-iversary, and has a super cute site (or maybe that’s just my love of polka dots talking).  Anyway, check her out, and you can also find the recipe for this cake there.

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I was really happy with how easy this recipe was- the hardest part was splitting the batter evenly, as I made three mini loaf pans.  They were 3 inches by 5 3/4 inches, and took 27 minutes to bake.  I chose to omit the poppy seeds, becasue they’re not my favorite thing in the world, and also because I didn’t have any.  The only other little change I made was to use some simple syrup I already had in place of the syrup we were supposed to make with orange juice.  I didn’t think the orange taste in this bread was as strong as I had expected, so next time I think I’ll actually use the orange syrup, or maybe a little bit of orange extract in the batter.  However, the orange I used in the batter didn’t have that super strong orange smell when I cut it, so it might have just been the orange.

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All in all, though, I really enjoyed this.  It was more dense than I expected, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I loved how citrus-y it made my apartment smell, and I was happy with how well it divided into three loaves.  I have one out now, and I think I’m going to take the other two home this weekend, one for my parents and one for my grandparents.  I wonder what could be mixed in mixed in with this besides poppy seeds?

Check out the rest of the SMS’ers at the blogroll and see what everyone else is up to.  And if you’re interested, we’re baking out of the Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy- you should really go pick up a copy!

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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

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When I was pretty young, maybe six or seven, my family’s summer trip was to a small town in Wisconsin where we spent several days at a bed and breakfast.  I don’t remember a whole lot about the trip, aside from our room having a lofted section, which was just the coolest thing ever, and a fishfry that took place late into one night at the building next door.  My strongest memory, however, is of the raspberries.  It was in the middle of berry season, and there were raspberries everywhere.  They were the biggest berries I’d ever seen in my life, and the sweetest, too.  One morning for breakfast, I just had a big bowl of raspberries, blueberries, and whipped cream- because you can do that when you’re six and on vacation.  My family remembers the raspberries well, and my dad claims they’re the best he’s ever had in his life.  And to this day, raspberries are one of my favorite fruits.

So when I saw this recipe for raspberry buttermilk cake on Smitten Kitchen, I was, well, smitten.  In addition to being full of my favorite fruit, which happened to be on sale for a steal, it didn’t have too much butter or sugar, so the berries would really shine through.  After I made it, I’d say it’s pretty heavenly.  It’s not overly sweet, and is very tender.  It was even still good a couple days later, although it was best the first day.  I think it would be perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but want to know a secret?  I ate it on its own for breakfast, and that was fine by me!

The only change I made to the recipe was to bake it in four 4-inch pans, which baked for about 19-25 minutes.  If you want to make the recipe in 4-inch pans, though, I’d say be really careful on the bake times, because my oven’s a little bit crazy so I don’t know how accurate those times are.  My first two were done in 19 minutes, but the second two were still liquid at that point.  If you don’t feel like dealing with that, just bake the cake in the 9-inch pan.  Just go make this cake, now!  Sub in whatever berries or fruit you like best if you’re not a big raspberry person.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

from Gourmet magazine, via Smitten Kitchen with my changes in italics

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 ounces)

1) Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. I used four 4-inch diameter Springform pans.

2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3) Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer (by hand) at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

4) At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined. I missed this step and just added the buttermilk all at once, then the dry ingredients.

5) Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

6) Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes (19-25 minutes). Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

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